Slow for Improvement

1265 Relax and Succeed - Wonderful things will happen todayLife is filled with choices and one of the first ones we make is why, when and how we wake up in the morning. The slowest, gentlest awakening allows us to make a gradual shift from our sleeping state to our waking. Waking up at the last possible minute to a screaming alarm, means that the very first encounter that your mind has with the day is being startled into it with panic and demands. It’s not an ideal start.

If we’re tired a lot, rather than going to bed earlier, most people get louder alarms and shock themselves even worse in the morning. This exacerbates the problem when the real answer is to stop paying attention to schedules and days and time and try to pay more attention to how you feel. This doesn’t make you late if you do it right, it makes you flow. You have to have an awful lot of fun in those hours before bed before you’ll equal the life advantages to being well-rested for the entire next day.

Listen to your body when it screams for sleep. Adjust your life accordingly; don’t make it one of the many bricks you voluntarily take on that weight down your day. Even if you’re late, rushing is a compulsion but it’s generally not effective. We get out of our routine and we spend so much time getting mad at ourselves by forgetting things. That’s compounded by our own mapping out the consequences of being late, from traffic, to angry bosses, to the worst parking spot on the lot, that it just leads us to make more and more mistakes, which leads to more angry conversations when in the end the only cure would not be to fix the time but to fix your mindset.

1265 Relax and Succeed - May your choices reflect your hopesThe time you can’t change. Your approach to your day is always yours to choose. Breathe. Again: understand the value of how you start. Take a few moments to appreciate it. Don’t judge it, don’t give it weather or time or any other meaning, just wake. Then take a moment to collect yourself. You can note if you’re late that you’ll need to be efficient, but that’s setting an intention, not generating panic.

We’re not comparing ourselves to being perfect, we’re noting that our day will require us to be sharp, and so setting that tone consciously allows us to be doing what is appropriate rather than rushing to simply meet a schedule with no value placed on the mindset we arrive in. Can you see that harried days happen in your head, while the more focused ones are more of a verb; an action? We need to center ourselves over that action and not the words around the action.

In the end, most people’s lives are bad because they are completely unmanaged. People put far more attention into some trivial thing they purchase than they do toward managing their own days. Too often our lives aren’t coordinated or designed to create a rewarding life, they strictly meet the current tyranny of a clock.

1265 Relax and Succeed - The ego is nothing otherWe often still need to be places at specific times to coordinate our efforts with others, but that still leaves us with ample choices about our bedtime, our sleeping arrangements, and how we choose to wake up. Don’t let daily life experiences like that happen by accident and without consideration of how your morning can set the stage for a healthy day. Wake up gently, feel the qualities of a worthwhile day gathering, and when you feel enthusiasm for the day strike, that’s your time to move.

Don’t live out of blind habit. Take a moment in the morning after waking to simply assert to your being. What sort of day do you intend to extract from your daily events? Will you watch for their downsides or their upsides? You can always switch at any moment during your day, but no moment sets the right tone for a day like those first moments after waking. Spend them wisely.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.

A Daily Dose of Peace

828 Relax and Succeed - You are the skySingers warm up their vocal chords. Athletes warm up and stretch their muscles. We’ll lift weights to get bigger, we’ll study for exams but for some reason we don’t feel that our mental health needs any tending. And yet when we see others and wish we were as stable and strong as they are, the only difference may be that they set their day up to succeed and you did not.

The first thing to do is to recognize the value of the morning. Your mind has been busy at night, weaving together all of the linkages between your daily thoughts. It wires in all the metaphors and chronological stuff and leaves us in the morning having integrated the previous day, but we’ve done nothing to set this new day up to be great. Don’t leave it to chance. Design it as a part of your life.

To use some of those metaphors I’ve wired in over the years: think of the brain like a muscle. New things it’ll be bad at, things it knows well it can almost do without you needing to be conscious about it. This is why things like driving seem so much easier after we’ve done it for a while. We have the wiring already built in our minds and we are merely using it. It’s the building that just takes a bit of time–for all of us.

828 Relax and Succeed - Don't tell us what you're againstKeeping up with the metaphor, the big tubes for electricity are the ones you use the most. So if you get angry a lot that anger impulse will be trying to slam dunk the basketball of mental energy through hoop that you could fit a car through. If you want to be more peaceful you’ve got to jam less stuff down that tube and use the one at the other end of the court instead–the tube for peace and tranquility and calm.

Set your alarm for a half hour before you get up, but know that when it turns on the next day that you have a leisurely full half hour to go through the waking process. Leave a note for yourself–whatever you have to do–but stay in bed or sit somewhere comfortable and just slowly wake up by thinking about your favourite things; things you’re grateful for. Really practice your gratitude. Widen that tube. Because during the day, as events unfold, that simple act in the morning will drastically impact whether you send your energy towards anger or calm.

Your brain likes to repeat things. Do not beat yourself up and think that you are worthless or a failure. No one is. The only question is: are we using our incredible capabilities to create something great or something we’ve created before? Because we can just keep getting mad and always blame it on the other person place or thing. Plus it’s us feeling the anger and that sucks. So feel love and connection instead. It’s not that hard.

828 Relax and Succeed - Periodically during your dayTune your mind like a radio. If you’re listening to half-static on a station playing angry death metal–hey that music can be fine in the right setting, but first thing in the morning whether you like it or not, you’d do better with a ballad or some Vivaldi. Actively “remember” that the day you’re going to have is going to be filled with great things. Expect them. Stretch your tubes. Tune your mind to watch for fortunate things. Get it ready to receive a signal of peace and patience.

During the day divide your day into segments. Make it a habit to check in with yourself mentally between them. Ask yourself periodically: what is my emotional state and what does that tell me about my state of mind? If you find you’re tense, or just before a big call or meeting follow this simple practice: Stand still in a comfortable pose and simply breathe 3-5 times using a 3 count inhale, a 7 count hold, and an 8 count exhale. This is very similar to your sleeping rhythm and your body knows that from years of practice so it will respond. Just stay still, do the breathing. You’ll oxygenate your brain and you’ll calm your jangling nerves. You’ll feel your chemistry change.

Feeling good will lead to good things. It’s funny, people want to go to the gym and start some new big thing just so they can feel better than they do, when it’s the other way around. If they feel better they’ll naturally want to do more with life. All they really have to do is start setting their day up the same way that most of the happy and successful ones do: by truly expecting it to be great and never giving up on that idea even in the face of challenges to that belief.

If you seek good fortune in your life you will find it. There’s no shortage of it. You simply have to watch for it. Why not start now?

peace. s

Scott McPherson is a writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.

The Friday Dose #89

805 FD Relax and Succeed - We are all visitors to thish placeToday we get cool real-time pictures that will fascinate travellers and the science-minded alike, we’ll delve into sleep and how you might be healthier than you think, and we’ll end on a once-banned TED Talk about the places where science and the quasi-paranormal are meeting.

Maybe it’s because you’re from or have relatives in other countries. Maybe you’ve travelled a lot or maybe you’re interested in astrophysics or cartography. For a little of all of those reasons I just find it cool to be able to watch the world’s weather and sunrises and sunsets in real time:

World Sunlight Map

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Next we’ll link to an article in National Geographic about the sleeping habits of people who still live much as they did hundreds or even thousands of years ago. They teach us that maybe you are getting enough sleep but maybe it would be easier to fall asleep if your bedroom was colder. Calmer certainly helps. Since I have lived with a quieter mind I went from chronic insomnia to falling asleep in moments and I find it natural and comfortable to live on about five to six hours sleep.

People Without Electricity Don’t Get 8 Hours Sleep Either

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And we’ll finish with the banned then half-unbanned then half-permitted TED Talk by Rupert Sheldrake. Sheldrake has a lot of critics in science and I don’t blame them–he’s blasphemous. Interestingly the scientists don’t seem to notice or feel the same way about Robert Pirsig, who wrote Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. In the biggest selling book in philosophical history, one of its key points is when Pirsig demonstrates that science is itself an accidental but very subtle self-referential system and its bible is mathematics, (which in turn branches off into all of the other sciences). That’s what people have against Sheldrake. But science and consciousness studies end up struggling because as science itself proved, everything really is subjective when you get right down to it. That makes science simultaneously true and not true. Near the borders of our knowing are common feelings everyone’s had, like the feeling of someone staring at them, or we all know people with a commanding presence, so clearly there are many forces in nature that have yet to be defined. And if they weren’t in the realm of where science brushes against the paranormal where else would we discover our latest set of misconceptions? We always have them. What are they today? And isn’t it exciting not knowing?

Have a wonderful weekend everyone.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is a writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.

The Friday Dose #67

680 FD Relax and Succeed - Life is not about success

Let’s use today to move through the stages of life. We’ll finish with dying, and we’ll precede that with aging, a look at the middle of your life and we’ll start off here with kids. As I’ve written before, most of the world group-sleeps. Brothers and sisters and other family members cuddle up, using each other as pillows and they sleep to the sound of each other’s breathing. There’s an epidemic of people who have trouble falling asleep and that’s a huge reason why. Here’s a talk with James McKenna on how our society urges us to train children to be unnatural:

A Conversation with a Co-Sleeping Expert

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Next David Cain takes on the next stage of programming of your life. This is where you learn to work instead of live. He talks about the simple joys in life that are surrendered without us even realizing it. If this short article doesn’t get you to really think about your life carefully I’ll be surprised, and the comments are almost as interesting as the short article:

Working to Live

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Next we’ll hear Maurice Sendak, author of books like Where the Wild Things Are, as he discusses aging and dying and how life only becomes more precious and where our tears are generated more by great thanks and appreciation than over loss or sadness:

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And we’ll close with a talk by the great Alan Watts on what you’re supposed to do before and after your life:

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No matter what stage you are in life I hope you found this helpful in getting yourself to where you’d really like to be. Have a wonderful weekend everyone.

peace. s

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Sleep Procrastination

Are you familiar with the condition Sleep Procrastination? Before going to bed I get restless or anxious and I pace and I have trouble actually laying down to even try to fall asleep. I’ve tried quite a few programs and drugs including hypnosis but with no success. Do you have any suggestions about what I can do?

signed,
Sleepless

Dear Sleepless,

So you think you should be asleep but you’re not. This is a good example of how subtly we are brainwashed by the world around us. You believe because your work has starting hours, and that because you’ve always heard you need eight hours sleep, you can calculate backwards to when you should be going to bed and to sleep. But all of that has to do with work, and hours and obligation. Those are all thought-forms. Those are not things that existed for cave men. Those don’t have anything to do with your nature, those are ideas that we have been 423 Relax and Succeed - Tension is who you think you areconditioned to treat like rules-to-exist-by and they are decidedly not like sleep which is entirely natural. Sleep is not a thought-form, sleep is a change in consciousness. Far from being a set of rules, it is a very special kind of freedom. Are you getting where I’m going with this?

First off, you’re not failing to fall asleep if you’re not actually tired. When work starts, and how much sleep Harvard says you need don’t have anything to do with you the individual and your experience of life in those moments. If you’re not tired you’re not tired. This is what Krishnamurti meant when he said, “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” You are a natural creature existing within an inhuman mental framework. Because someone invented a clock does not mean you are being wrong by being tired at 2pm instead of 10pm. So that’s the first thing.

The second thing is that you may be tired but avoiding the bed for reasons that are inexplicable to you. So let me make them explicable. (I totally expected my red spell-check line to turn on under explicable. Who knew that was a word?) There’s a part of your brain that knows that all is well as long as birds are singing. If the birds around you suddenly stop singing, then your brain knows something is happening that’s worth paying attention to. Well you’re kind of the same way with sleep. There’s a form of sleep that’s very natural and that’s group sleeping. In most cultures you’ll have large numbers of people all sharing a very small space and everyone will be using each other as pillows. 80% of the world does this. It’s what we’ve historically done throughout our evolution. So because some guy invented houses and coved us off in small 423 Relax and Succeed - Sleep is the best meditationgroups, and then they further coved us off into individual bedrooms, that doesn’t mean that’s how we’ll get the best sleep. That was just what worked financially. The Economy liked it that way. More furniture. 😉

A while back a guy was writing a book and it was based on him taking a one year period where he did absolutely everything that was recommended in something like the New York Times Style section, or maybe doing everything it recommended for women in a year of Cosmo—or something like that. The point being, for an entire year he tried a bunch of media-prescribed solutions, and then he wrote a book about it. When an interviewer asked him at the end of the year if he still did any of the things that were recommended, he said only one. He still slept with 14 pillows on his bed. Get it? The pillows mimic the feeling of sleeping with your relatives. The sense of leaning, and being spooned into place is very similar. So after one year of experimenting, the only thing of value was to create the illusion of a group sleep situation.

This is not likely to be the answer you were looking for. Hey, you can certainly focus on ensuring you’re not thinking limiting thoughts when approaching bed, and you have to check in to see what sort of narratives you may have built around the process of going to bed, but bottom line some of what you’re concerned about is less a problem with you and more the result of us living lives that are actually quite unnatural in many key ways. You might even want to try the pillow idea.

423 Relax and Succeed - The awakened sagesRemember, sleep is a very specific state of mind. Get to know it as you lay there. Watch for the feelings that go with it. Know them. And when you’re laying there and you cannot sleep, recall those feelings. That alone will take you an enormous amount of the way toward sleep. Breathe deeply as you would as if you were sleeping. Your brain will know that rhythm and it will match it and relaxation will follow.

If you do this enough days in a row, easily falling asleep will become a habit. And then on the rare days where you still can’t get to sleep, write it off to an ion storm or something. Who knows what forces are all at play in our lives? I will still occasionally get one night of inexplicable insomnia. So give yourself the occasional sleepless night as being entirely “normal” (whatever that is). But by consciously considering how you do fall asleep, you should be able to conjure that state of mind pretty much at will with just a little practice. Just keep a quiet mind, and imagine what it’s like to be asleep.

Learn to control your thinking. Free yourself up from second-guesses and a lack of focus and things like insomnia. Guide your own mind like a Ninja and put yourself in your own personal sleeper hold. All it takes is some awareness and some practice. You can do it as long as you believe you can. Go for it. And sweet dreams.

peace. s